On 15 June, an email from Srikanth Meenakshi, co-founder, and chief operating officer of FundsIndia, went out to the 330 employees at the online mutual funds distribution company. It confirmed a rumour that had been doing the rounds for a week. That the board was asking Meenakshi to leave the company. The company he and his co-founder, CR Chandrasekar, founded 10 years ago.
“Dear all, I wish to bring to your notice that the board members of our company (Wealth India Financial Services Pvt Ltd) are trying to take control of the company, much to the detriment of founders, employees, and customers,” Meenakshi wrote.
This email, which The Ken has seen, was the first visible symptom of the fractures within FundsIndia, which manages total assets of Rs 5,444 crore ($762.3 million) and is among the top 30 mutual fund distributors in the country out of a 1,073 distributors. It was also the first public signal that the board and the founders did not see eye-to-eye.
There were many questions in the air. What did this mean for the employees? Were they going to lose their jobs? Who was to now run the company? Meenakshi wrote that the board had appointed Giriraj Murugan, the current CTO, to “take control of the situation”. But the founders warned employees in the email to not act based on any direction from Murugan or the two other board appointees—Vani P, the HR head, and Srinivas Subuddhi, the CFO.
The discomfort was palpable. Some of the older employees started a signature campaign to protest against the board control. “They were talking to teams and asked us to take a stand against the board,” said an employee.
On 24 June, it became clear who was in charge. Meenakshi and Chandrasekar addressed the employees and told them they could not convince the board.
The company’s HR, the very next day, sent out a somber email thanking the co-founders for their role in building the company for the last 10 years: “Chandra and Srikanth are stepping down from their operating roles in the company.” The email also named its chief technology officer Giriraj Murugan as its interim chief.
In an official statement to the media, the board said: “The Board of Directors of Wealth India Financial Services comprising representatives from Inventus Capital, Foundation Capital, and Faering Capital took the necessary measures related to the employment of the founders of the company after observing certain irregular actions. The decisions were taken at the board level after substantial deliberations over a period of time.”
The “irregular actions” that the board alludes to precipitated over the past two years.